Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A few links on a Wednesday evening

I have so many Firefox and IE tabs open that I thought I should share some links with you all of what I've been looking at over the last few days.

Estonia becomes the first nation with mobile voting. Ok, it's a small country, but still, an interesting development.

Youth are not interested in mobile marketing. Graham Brown from Mobile Youth shares his thoughts on the matter.

There's a job going for an artistic hermit at The Manchester Museum. Actually, it sounds like a really interesting project. I'm wondering how I could blag my way into that one.. how does one qualify as an 'artist' these days?

Over the past year, 300 pupils in the UK have been involved in an experiment to use mobile phones in lessons to record movies, take photos or set homework reminders. Reporter Anna Lacey visits Park House school in Newbury to find out whether the project has been a success for the BBC. I'm very pleased to see mobile technology being used for educational purposes.

Mobile Awesomeness - a showcase of top mobile websites from around the globe.

Taptu whitepaper on making mobile search social (they've also just raised a nice bit of funding too as it happens).

Insights into iPhone usage from Nielsen. It's US centric but it's still an interesting read even if you're not in the US.

Cellphone shopping makes wallets redundant in Japan from coupons to using your phone to pay for stuff. It's only a matter of time before it happens here in the UK too as the O2/Telefonica NFC trials were very successful.

Mobile beats full-fat internet in ROI study from Quattro and comScore. The most interesting point for me is that the comScore/Quattro Survey found a significant percentage of the audience to be “mobile only” visitors to the measured brand destinations. This is consistent with other research I've been looking into in mobile usage in the UK. There appears to be a growing band of mobile-web-only customers.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Research findings re UK PC & mobile internet usage

And very interesting it is too. The white paper compares UK PC & mobile internet usage by age and gender. It takes a look at the impact of smartphone ownership on mobile internet usage as well as where the key growth areas are on mobile internet usage compared with PC internet (email, social networking, search).

From the figures there is certainly a male youth bias but it's not as strong as one might have thought, especially with smartphone ownership being significantly higher in men than women. Overall there's a skew towards men at 59% vs 41% women whereas PC internet usage is pretty much even. And 25% of the UK are using the mobile internet which is also very encouraging.

I've also been looking at some interesting research conducted by regarding their customer base and attitudes to mobile social networking and the mobile internet. It's also well worth a look (it's a free PDF download). There were a couple of particularly interesting things to note... there's a growing base of mobile only customers who also don't have an email address. And mobile internet usage is evenly split on between men and women... so I would suggest that if you give women what they want, they're as likely to use it as men.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Silly mobile tariffs

I spoke at the Future of Mobile conference recently and stated silly mobile tariffs were holding us back as an industry. And they are silly. They're complicated, there are too many of them, there's lots of very small print (which I can't read even *with* my glasses on), extra roaming charges on a per megabyte basis (who knows what a megabyte is anyway and how do you know the size of a page *before* you click on it?) and well, they're just so unnecessary.

And if you don't believe me, go take a look at MobileMeg who has attempted to collate all UK mobile data tariffs (albeit I suspect it's a little out of date as I know Tesco has recently introduced a new mobile data tariff - yet another one!). It's not pretty and it's not clever. Network operators - sort it out! Complexity is not a good thing.

Papa John's generates $1m in sales in the USA


I've just been reading about Papa John's foray into mobile commerce over at Mobile Marketer.

"Pizza chain Papa John’s International Inc. has generated more than $1 million in sales from mobile Web orders in less than six months after offering that option to consumers.

The milestone comes after Papa John’s earlier this year crossed more than $1 billion in overall online sales – up from $400 million in 2007 – and launched a Facebook page that quickly attracted 175,000-plus fans in less than a week. The mobile commerce push led to the introduction yesterday of an iphone site for Papa John’s."

So it looks like Papa John's is doing pretty well then. 1% of overall sales via mobile sounds about right to me. And no mean feat to accomplish that within 6 months of launch.

You can see the mobile site at It's completely reliant on setting up an account with Papa John's which can all be done from your phone and once registered you can link through to your local Papa John's menu and delivery options. You can also use the related SMS service once you've created an account. It remembers your favourite pizzas so reordering is faster.

At the moment about 20% of all orders are via digital channels, including mobile but the powers that be suggest that digital channels may overtake voice pretty soon.

The also note that the digital orderers of pizza are typical Papa John's customers and are not specifically youth or after smaller orders (which makes sense to me as you do have to register and can't just order off the cuff - of course once registered, it's easier the next time). And I suspect the iphone application is even easier to use. And of course it makes perfect sense. You can order your pizza from the bus or train on your way home and you arrive home at the same time as your pizza. Brilliant! Certainly less annoying than shouting your order down the phone with the rest of the passengers listening in to what you're going to have for dinner.

Admittedly, I don't order pizzas very often, but I just might if it was that simple to do from my phone already without having to hunt for the leaflet that got stuck through the door and probably went straight into my recycling bin anyway.

I remember talking to Papa John's agency in the UK many moons ago about a very similar service but the idea was ditched in favour of printing more leaflets. But then that's another story...

Follow me on twitter

Yes, I'm still blogging here from time to time, but frankly, I just don't have the time to write up all the stuff I want to write about. Don't panic, I'm not going to stop writing here but I am doing quite a lot of microblogging which you may be interested in. So rather than miss out, you can always follow me on twitter instead where I'm known as technokitten. I talk about lots of random stuff there, including a few juicy snippets and links on articles related to mobile so feel free to add me. You don't have to join in the conversation if you don't want to (although you'll get more out of it if you do), you can simply lurk if you prefer. And yes, I do keep my profile private so you'll have to ask permission, so please make sure I can tell that you're a real person (i.e. a photo of you, a short bio and a link to your blog or website is *really* helpful) and not some kind of spambot or serial killer.

Welcome to the twitterverse...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Carnival of the Mobilists #151 is up at Golden Swamp

And I have to say that Judy Breck has done a rather good job of it this week with contributions from faces both old and new (and also of managing to run the Carnival of the Mobilists so well over the last few months). And of course I'm thrilled to bits that I'm included on the list too. Go check it out for this week's best writing in mobile.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fancy getting your hands on some fab mobile goodies?

Then please support MIReview Christmas Presents. It's a great idea. The Mobile Industry Review team gets sent a lot of free mobile stuff to try out and instead of keeping it themselves, they're raffling it off for charity. All you need to do is donate a minimum of £5 to the cause (or whatever the equivalent is in your currency), then you will be entered into the draw to win one of several fab prizes including a netbook, several handsets, bluetooth headphones, free Spinvox accounts, bluetooth headsets and bluetooth car speakers.

The team are supporti ng two charities this year - Childline and the UN Foundation and you can donate by clicking the links on the site, or by emailing Ben as he can sort out alternative payment methods with you if you prefer such as Paypal.

Anyway, you know it makes sense. Click on the link. Donate the money. Spread the word. And keep your fingers crossed you win one of the lovely prizes in the safe knowledge that your small donation has helped change someone's life for the better.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mobile Monday & Swedish Beers round up

Yes, I know it's been a while coming but it's been kinda busy at technokitten towers lately so I haven't manage to catch up on everything yet but I thought it was about time to tell you about our Mobile Monday and Swedish Beers birthday party.

If you weren't there, you missed a treat. Tim Green, editor of Mobile Entertainment Magazine did a wonderful job in the role of Parky to host our chat show stylee event with guests Dr Mike Short (VP R&D O2 Telefonica), Russell Buckley (MD Europe Admob and Chairman of the Mobile Marketing Association), Madhuban Kumar (Founder, Ereni Partners) and the infamous Bill Thompson from the BBC's digital planet amongst other things. And the mid-way entertainment was provided by the wonderful guys at MIReview. More on that later.

As I was busy organising everything I was in and out of the room so didn't hear the whole thing but since the rooms was packed there were plenty people who did and some of them even wrote about it including Tom Hume, Russell and James Cameron.

And the MIReview guys were fab. They recorded their weekly show live (the first time they've done this) and also did some vox pops at Swedish Beers afterwards. Below are the links to the official segments and the last clip is from Ribot, who recorded the live recording in all its glory so you can see the before and after, effectively.

MIR Show - Week 45 - MoMo London Live from Mobile Industry Review on Vimeo.

MIR Show - Week 45 - Omar Hamoui, founder of AdMob from Mobile Industry Review on Vimeo.

MIR Show - Week 45 - Justin Davies, Co-Founder of NinetyTen from Mobile Industry Review on Vimeo.

Mobile Industry Review invade Mobile Monday London from ribot on Vimeo.

The Swedish Beers party afterwards at Bar 101 was a blast as usual and special thanks has to go to Future of Mobile and MX Telecom for their generosity and support in sponsoring the evening. There were already lots of people waiting for us by the time we got there, which was great. And there were folks there from all areas of the industry and far too many to name check them all - but included Future Platforms, O2, Vodafone, dotmobi, IIR, Carsonified, NinetyTen, Rummble, INQ, Admob, Ereni Partners, IQinc, MX Telecom, Spinvox, Ring Ring, Media, Trutap, Ribot, Fred's Talent, Hai Media, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Six Degrees, Yahoo!, Google, Kizoom, AdIq, NitroMobile, Symbian, Truphone, Nokia, Synchro Arts, Flirtomatic, Mippin, Ericsson, MMA, Splendid Communications, Vertu, MobGeo, Sony Ericsson, Yiibu, and more besides. It was good to see some familiar faces too and have a catch up over a beer and also good to meet some new faces too.

And a *special* thanks to everyone involved in getting this particular show on the road, especially Sevgi, Stephanie, Lisa and Bryan for their support and help on the night.

Update: in case you're interested, quite a few folks blogged about the evening too so feel free to browse the following blog posts.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Police text cocaine users

I was chatting with Patrick Smith from SMS is the New Black about the future of mobile (something we'd all been talking about all day at the Future of Mobile Conference and I've questioned here ), and we both agreed that there was still a lot of mileage left in today's technology - not least trusty old SMS.

So I thought I'd check out Patrick's blog and although it's a new blog on the block, I like what's there so far and was particularly interested in his coverage of the police texting cocaine users in St Albans. It's such a simple idea. The police busted a bunch of cocaine dealers who were operating a delivery service not unlike your local pizza delivery service. As such, cocaine buyers ring up their local cocaine delivery service on their mobile and make their order and it gets delivered. So when the police caught the dealers, they also grabbed their phones and checked who had called the order line and texted them back.

"Police also sent text messages to 668 phone numbers they found thought to be of regular cocaine users.

The text messages said no action would be taken against the users and offered receivers help to kick drug addictions.

The recipients were also directed to a website with links to the Talk to Frank drugs advice website where they can get help."

So simple.

There is no future of mobile

Or at least that was the title to my 6-minute talk at yesterday's Future of Mobile conference at Kensington Town Hall. I was one of the 6 x 6 bloggers (alongside peers Vero, Andrew, Ewan, Whatleydude and Jemima) and I had 6 minutes to wax lyrical about any topic I liked.

There was a sharp intake of breath as I announced there was no future to mobile. As you might imagine, as an advocate of all aspects of mobile technology, and especially mobile marketing, advertising and media, it was not a sentence the audience expected to hear coming from my lips.

[Photo courtesy of Justin Davies of NinetyTen]

But let me explain...

There are 6 reasons why, if we carry on the way we are going, there will be no future to mobile.

1. We carry on focusing on technology rather than people

The technology is a hygiene factor and not the raison d'etre. The technology needs to be reliable, affordable, usable, fast and context relevant. There are very few folks out there who care which gizmo or platform you're building on. They just want it to work. The technology needs to be invisible and seamless. And of course that's a challenge to developers and service providers, but the fact still remains that this is all about the people and not the technology.

2. We continue to have silly mobile tariffs

Why are mobile tariffs, let alone data tariffs so complicated? Why are the tariffs, in particular data tariffs, focused on contract customers who are prepared to commit to an 18 month contract when 60% or more of the UK's mobile customers are on prepay phones and either won't (it's too scary, don't know what to expect, or are transient) or can't (poor credit rating) change to a contract. But more than that, why are they going to switch to a contract to use mobile data if they have no idea what the experience is going to be like?

Back in the early days of the internet, internet service providers, like Freeserve (now Orange), revolutionised internet access by introducing the penny a minute tariff up to a maximum of £12.99 a month. You knew that if you were online for 10 minutes, it would cost you 10p. You knew it would never cost you more than £12.99 a month. You didn't have to have a contract and therefore it removed the risk. Admittedly dial-up could be a bit flaky, websites could be a bit slow to load (sound familiar huh), but still folks could try it risk and commitment-free. And it meant a huge increase in internet usage.

3. We create applications and services for people like us

There was an excellent turnout at the Future of Mobile and I'm guessing that 99% of the people in the room were Promobs - as in professional or "super" mobile users. You know the type - have a N95 in one hand whilst checking their email on their blackberry in their other hand and live streaming qik at the same time.

The trouble is, the market is full of people who are *not* like us. Our customers are normal people. The ones who use their phones for talking and texting. The ones who have no idea that they may need new firmware or may need to change their handset settings. My family is a case in point.. bearing in mind I've been working in the mobile industry for more than 8 years, you wouldn't be able to tell that by my own family's usage of mobile technology...

My sister, well she's just about changed her ringtone and clings on to her Nokia 3310.

My brother has a Motorola Razr and when he got it, thought it was a seriously cool phone (and more to the point, thought I would think the same).

My parents are just too elderly now to get their heads round mobile technology. It's too complicated to learn, their fingers aren't as nimble as they used to be and they just don't have a need. They've lived their long lives without mobile technology. In fact a lot of their lives was lived without telephony in the home at all.

My nieces - well it's all about SMS and to a lesser extent listening to music (and sharing music files via bluetooth). The perception of mobile data to them is still that it's scarily expensive and a £5 a month commitment just so they can check facebook is just a step to far to the average teenager or twenty-something.

And my Auntie, well she just loves to chat. Whether it's a landline or a mobile, she doesn't care. She just wants to talk.

So my question to you is how do we create useful, relevant, entertaining, interesting services for Normobs so that we can bring them into our mobile world without dragging them there kicking and screaming in pain at the experience? How do we create that demand?

4. We continue to nurture the culture gap

Yes, there is. There's a culture gap between web people and mobile people. I've met a lot of people in both camps on the development and the commercial side and in the main, they really don't talk each other's language. Web centric folks can't understand why mobile folks put up with the complexity of the development task let alone trying to access the internet via a 2 inch screen. And then add in the disconnect with the handset folks and the web and the mobile development folks. And then add in the network operators. And then add in brands and agencies and we have a melting pot of folks who just don't understand each other. And in many cases don't even want to play nicely together in the playground due to perceptions about each other that are largely unfounded.

So I have a request that we are more open with each other. That we try to understand each other's points of view so that we can all move forward together in this brave new world.

5. We remain Western-Centric

The next billion customers are not going to come from the USA, the UK or the rest of Europe. The next billion customers are not in the West. This means that the "rest of the world" is not bogged down with the feeling that the internet on mobile experience is second best to the full fat internet on a laptop or desktop screen. It means that they can leapfrog technology rather than go through the evolution that we are still experiencing. And it means that there will be innovation based on needs today and solving problems today rather than working on 'the next big thing'. The speed of growth of mobile penetration in India, China, Africa, South America is phenomenal. This is where we'll see innovation. This is where we'll see real people come up with new ways to use mobile technology to solve their day to day problems or enhance their day to day lives.

6. We forget that the mobile phone is a communication device

It was designed for us to talk to each other. It was designed for us to be able to communicate with our friends, family, colleagues and lovers by voice, text, instant message, email, facebook, twitter, whatever. But it's about communication. In every region of the world, mobile data traffic is largely driven by social networking - whether that's Peperonity, Cyworld, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter - it doesn't really matter. It does mean that it's the human communication that's important to us and drives the desire to explore mobile devices further in order to find other ways to communicate with loved ones.

The mobile phone is personal, it's precious, it's an object of desire and it's our access to the outside world. It's also a necessity and a basic tool to participate in UK society (according to the latest Joseph Rowntree report).

So please, don't abuse my mobile life by clogging it up with stuff that doesn't work, stuff that is memory hungry, stuff I don't need or want. Think about the real people who are using real phones in real life and make their mobile life better. And maybe then, just then, there'll be a future of mobile.

Update: After my session, I did a short audio interview with the lovely Jemima Kiss discussing my talk a little more and it's now live on The Guardian.

Update 2: My talk was video-recorded by Mauricio Reyes. He also caught my fellow 6 x 6 bloggers.

Future of Mobile 08 6x6 Bloggers perspective #3 from Mauricio Reyes on Vimeo.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Ring Ring Media hits the $1m mark

Independent mobile advertising agency, RingRing Media, today announced that it has already booked well over one million dollars worth of search and display mobile advertising for its clients, since its launch just four months ago in June.

The mobile buying and planning agency runs both low risk, performance based advertising campaigns on a cost per click basis, constantly monitoring campaign performance and fine tuning it to deliver unrivalled click through rates as well as CPM
campaigns on all of the tier one trusted mobile advertising networks.

The news comes on the back of RingRing Media’s recent launch of its flagship product, I’AM, the mobile industry’s first mobile advertising network optimisation platform. Matt White, head of mobile at Yahoo said: “RingRing Media fills an important niche in
the mobile advertising space. The company is one of the few agencies that completely understands the market and its potential to create a unique and personalised advertising experience for users. “In its first four months the company has risen to become one of our most important and valued partners.”

Way to go Ring Ring!

Mobile Monday & Swedish Beers celebrate together on 10th November

Yes, it's true. Both Swedish Beers and Mobile Monday London have their birthdays round about now - 7 years and 3 years respectively. And to celebrate, we're joining forces and having a big bash combining the best of both events in one big night out on Monday 10th November.

So the format's going to be a little bit different, but we hope you will still enjoy it immensely. So what's in store then...?

The Mobile Monday bit:

Well we have Tim Green, editor of Mobile Entertainment Magazine who is going to be our host with the most on the evening. And he's going to be interviewing four mobile industry celebrities for our delectation, talking about the year just gone and the year ahead and the odd anecdote or three in a chat show stylee. Our esteemed guests are Dr Mike Short from O2, Russell Buckley from Admob, Bill Thompson, a regular from the BBC's Digital Planet plus a mystery guest. There will be time for questions from the audience too.

We will have the MIReview Show joining us too and in the spirit of the evening, they will be presenting and filming some of their show LIVE on stage. (If you don't know them already, think Top Gear but about mobile technology instead of cars.). And we're still hopeful for a surprise or two.

This will all be happening at the CBI at Centrepoint (Tottenham Court Road tube) - Doors opening at 6pm for a 6.30pm start. Don't be late, otherwise you'll miss the Mobile Monday Chat Show as it will only be on for about an hour to an hour and half.

The Swedish Beers bit

Then once the show's a wrap as they say in TV land, we'll move on straight away to Bar 101 (it's underneath Centrepoint at the back) to join the Swedish Beers crew and enjoy some free beer, random chat and general good cheer courtesy of our very generous sponsors - The Future of Mobile and MX Telecom.

There's no formality at Swedish Beers, just turn up, be friendly, drink beer (or soft drinks), chew the fat, talk about mobile stuff (or not) and generally enjoy the vibe. To claim your free drink, you'll need to find one of the generous sponsors, one of the Swedish Beers crew or one of the Mobile Monday organisers to claim your beer token. Without the token, it's a pay bar. But it's open until late, so we can talk mobile nonsense until the wee hours if you like.


If you'd like to come to the Mobile Monday Chat Show, please RSVP here by 'adding record' with your name and company details. No RSVP required for Swedish Beers. You don't have to come to both parts of the evening, but it would be fun if you did. The more the merrier as they say and both venues can hold a lot of us mobile types. So spread the word!

See you Monday 10th November in celebratory mode.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sharpcards secures deal with T-Mobile UK

Sharpcards has just announced its agreement with T-Mobile in the UK to embed its EMMA system (that's Enhanced Mobile Messaging Application to you and me) on certain of T-Mobile's handsets in the UK. This is to create a better MMS messaging experience for T-Mobile customers.

"Under terms of the three-year agreement, EMMA will be embedded within the messaging menu of the specific handsets. EMMA allows T-Mobile customers to send high quality ecards as easy as sending a text message, by putting the service right in front of the customer at a time when they're texting.

Ecards are designed as an imaginative was to send picture messages – fun and flirty animations for everyday sending, from the world's top brands.

EMMA comes in both Java and Symbian and is a fully integrated part of the handset software that requires no further installation by the customer. Content is continually updated and the customer does not pay a data fee to access the ecards."

T-Mobile in the UK, happens to be the cheapest MMS provider (as far as I know at least) at just 20p a message. And this represents very good value. The idea behind including the EMMA system, means that customers can access sophisticated mobile content such as animations and include that in their MMS messages. There's a one-off fee of 75p for the animation you choose, but once downloaded to your phone, you can use it as many times as you like.

I encourage ways to help normobs increase their usage of more sophisticated aspects of their phones and this is a great start. My only question is the pricepoint... is 75p too much for the average teenager (for I'm guessing it will be teenagers who might drive this) for something like this? I suspect once the service has gained some traction and is out there on a selection of handsets in the market that we'll see some ad-funded models emerging or specific sponsored content... I can already visualise Coca-Cola traditional Christmas animations and Love Hearts at Valentine's Day. I do hope so, as I think it will be at that point that this will really take off and could be an interesting spin on mobile marketing.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A little bit of social media history happened today

The more time I spend on this planet, the more I'm fascinated by human behaviour, the more I enjoy seeing the norms being challenged, the more I'm interested in how real people engage with and use technology. And I got a cup of that this morning.

There was a social media coup this morning over at Thomson Reuters in London. The Prime Minister was coming in for a press conference to discuss the measures the Government is taking to ease our current UK and global financial situation. Of course the usual suspects were there - kosher journos from The Guardian, Telegraph, City AM, BBC et al. But in amongst them were two of our own - Mike Atherton and Christian Payne aka Sizemore and Documentally. Both of them are regulars at the Tuttle Club. Both are very experienced in writing, filming, photography, blogging, vlogging, lifesstreaming and other bits of social media. But they're not journalists. They're not political analysts. They're just ordinary folk like you and me who happen to have an interest in this social media mullarkey. And they were there, in the front row, courtesy of Thomson Reuters, live streaming the event, with live chat on the side via Qik and Twitter.

You might say, 'so what?'. And I suspect you wouldn't be alone. Well the 'so what' element for me is that the powers that be recognised alternative media. They realise that blog distribution helps them reach the parts that other media doesn't. It means that I actually listened in to the press conference live. And it was even better because I could see the live chat going on alongside on Qik and Twitter. It was also fun to see how excited Mike and Christian were to be involved.

It makes this stuff real for normal folk. It's not about the City's suited and booted. It's not about having a press pass. It's not about being a political analyst or being in the inner circle. It's about being there, from the comfort of your own home, with your friends (and a lot of my friends were twittering about it and I expect are also blogging it as I write and you read).

Ok, so a lot of the questions were above my head (I was suffering from Continuous Partial Attention as usual - but that's another story) but it did mean I could tune in very easily. It didn't need fancy cameras (I watched a lot of it from Christian's Qik channel which was from his mobile phone I hasten to add), and it didn't need the BBC to broadcast it either. Thomson Reuters own video was much better quality in terms of production values but the Qik was definitely good enough for me.

It was also good to know that Downing Street's PR team was paying attention too. A friend who works with them told me the team was watching with interest.

I guess the interesting thing now is to see how this activity has galvanised the community in some way. Yes, of course conversations are important and news coverage seems to specifically encourage conversations. But conversations are just part of the story. As they say, talk is cheap. I would add that community is what you really want to galvanise. And I felt a little bit of that today. The community where I hang out were tuning in and chatting about what the Prime Minister was actually saying and doing our work at the same time and chatting with each other (you see, it's that Continuous Partial Attention thing again - I wonder if that means the PM should use shorter words and sentences or something?). And it felt really good to be part of it.

Well done Ilicco, Christian and Mike. Your community is proud of you.

More about it here and here.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Pinking it up, does it work?

I've often asked the question as to what research has been done into what difference gender makes (or not) in terms of how we use technology - laptops, software, mobile phones, whatever. I've asked user-interaction designers, marketers, commercial folks, media owners and no-one has been able to point me to anything tangible. I suspect that the mobile network operators may have done research in this area, but they're not telling. And maybe the nice folks at What If? have done something in this area? (They happened to hold a lovely evening a couple of weeks back to celebrate the women in the mobile industry and I was invited.) Or maybe there's no need for stuff that is used equally by both genders?

Anyway, the few attempts by the handset manufacturers to appeal to women have had mixed results to say the least it seems. It feels like phones designed for women look prettier but are often dumbed down when it comes to functionality and applications. Is this just a reflection of how Western society views women anyway (i.e. they like us to be pretty but not too clever because that's scary)? Maybe I'm stretching the analogy a bit, or maybe there's more truth to the stereotype than I care to admit.

Anyway, I digress. A pal sent me a link to this article from Marketing Week talking about marketing to women and how successful 'pinking it up' is or isn't. It talks of Motorola's new Moto Jewel handset launch. which is certainly pretty, and has lots of features you may want from a phone at the sub £100 price point. And is aimed at women when mostly Motorola aims its handsets at men.

I know that putting a gadget in pink does sell product whether it's a pink kettle or a pink phone. But where is the insight into marketing a phone to women beyond making it shiny, pink or bejewelled? We probably don't necessarily need different phones (I'm very happy with my Nokia N-95 and I'm certainly tempted by the G-phone in white - neither handset is aimed at women specifically) but maybe men and women need them explained to them in different ways. Maybe changing the language is all you need rather than changing the model.

What do you think?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Are you going to Twestival tonight?


Well I am. And it's looking like it's going to be a lot of fun.

Admittedly, I'm a bit of a social butterfly at times and would go to the opening of an envelope if there were enough interesting people there. But this one really does look like an interesting concept.

If you haven't heard of it, then it's probably because you're not on Twitter. (And you're no-one if you're not on Twitter, according to The Twitter Song.) Because the concept of the the Harvest Twestival is to bring together 200 or so twitterati so we can see the real person behind the avatar and the 140 character musings at Doon on Trafalgar Square. (If you're interested in mobile twitterers, then Emily Freeman recently outed a few of us on her blog as 'ones to follow' - thanks Emily!)

The music on the night will be provided by the Madhouse Collective who will be integrating requests from internet channels that have been set up. Kai Fish from the Mystery Jets will also be DJing an exclusive set on the night. (I'm liking the sound of this I have to say.)

All profits from the night will be donated to The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields, a community centre based in Trafalgar Square that works with homeless people. Raffle prizes have been donated by the lovely people at Twitter,, Thomson Reuters, ITV and Harper Collins. And the event is made possible by the generosity of its sponsors - UnLtd World, Huddle, Diffusion PR, Tactile CRM, Winston & Strawn LLP and Just Giving.

All in all, it's shaping up to be a good night. And I'm guessing that there'll be a lot of twittering about it later.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Spam doesn't pay.

Oh dear. It seems that Timberland is paying a very high price for spamming it's US-based customers. Timberland has agreed to reimburse people $150 who received unauthorized text messages advertising its products between 2003 and 2008 in one of the first nationwide settlements of its kind, according to a law firm involved in the case. 

I knew we had stringent rules on spamming here in the UK. But I guess we don't have the 'class action' culture that exists in the USA. $150 compensation seems rather high when you may only have received one or two text messages.

One of the key differences in the US is that you have to pay to receive SMS still so this will have played its part. I'm also curious as to where Timberland got the mobile numbers from. Were they on a dodgy database or did they just make them up?

So the lesson today is to make sure that you're database is fully opted-in and you make it really easy to opt-out at any time. This is a very expensive lesson to learn.

Timberland pays out to settle text spam lawsuit | InfoWorld | News | 2008-09-22 | By Nancy Gohring, IDG News Service

Americans text more than they talk, so are just like us apparently

Yes, it's true. Our friends across the pond are catching up with us Europeans.

"For the second quarter of 2008, U.S. mobile subscribers sent and received on average 357 text messages per month, compared with making and receiving 204 phone calls a month, according to Nielsen. The new statistic is a clear indication that Americans have jumped onto the SMS text bandwagon."

Ok, so they're not at UK levels but still, it's an impressive rate of growth at 450%. Read more about it here : Americans text more than they talk | News - Wireless - CNET News

Monday, September 22, 2008

Follow the money on BBC Radio 4

Follow the money on BBC Radio 4

I got an email today from radio producer friend, Ian Willox. He's just produced a show for BBC Radio 4 on peer to peer global money flows.

He says, that in the UK, money transfer shops are doing a roaring trade. Alkarim Jivani investigates the economics and the human stories behind the global money flows.

Money transfer is big business, and speaks volumes about migration, inner city culture and the ebb and flow of cash across continents. We find out why people send money home, how the system operators, and why business is booming. We also discover how crucial these remittances are to the lives of people back home and how mobile technology is revolutionising the money transfer business.

Well worth a listen I'm guessing.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Air Pollution SMS Alerts

I wish we didn't need to have pollution alerts in London, but sending them straight to your mobile via text message seems like a very sensible solution. And what's more, this isn't a premium rate service, it's just a service, and it's free.

The website is pretty thorough too - worth a look.

Air Pollution Alerts

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Monday, September 01, 2008

The weird and wonderful world of T-Mobile's pricing strategies

Oh dear. T-Mobile seems to think that charging lots of money for SMS is a good thing. I must admit, I'm a T-Mobile customer, and have been for years, and generally they represent good value for money for UK-based services. But as soon as you step of this small island I call home, then the charges soon rack up. I particularly baulk at the thought of paying 40p per SMS yet it's only 20p to send a MMS. The trouble is, the carrier you roam on doesn't necessarily support MMS and you'd never know one way or the other if they did so you have absolutely no idea if your MMS would get through.

And then I pick up on this snippet from Martin Geddes. Not only do T-Mobile want to charge over the odds for SMS when you're roaming. They also want to charge you for all the failed messages you send too. And not just a little bit of a charge, a whopping 30p a go.

Sheesh. And this is a good idea because???

I do hope Ofcom and\or Otelo have something to say about this and not let this one slip through the net. OUTRAGEOUS!! 

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Telepocalypse by Martin Geddes: We hate our customers

Carnival of the Mobilists #139 is at mobscure :: obscure trends of mobile

200808311539.jpgI'm thrilled to be included in this week's Carnival of the Mobilists which is being hosted this week by Canada's Mobscure.  I'm in good company, as ever, including Tomi Ahonen, Andrew Grill, mjelly and Judy Breck. Go check it out and have a read of this week's best blog writing in mobile.

[Great choice of Carnival pictures too, Igor!]

Next week's Carnival will be hosted at Judy Breck's Golden Swamp. For more information on the Carnival of the Mobilists, then check out the FAQs on the website. It's easy to submit your blog post and the more voices we have to choose from, the better.

Carnival of the Mobilists #139 | mobscure :: obscure trends of mobile

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Are women invisible?

And if so, what can we, the mobile industry, do about it?

I've recently written about the lack of female speakers at Informa's upcoming Mobile Web conference. I've also been alerted that the Mobile Marketing Association's forthcoming conference in Budapest (also run by Informa) lacks female visibility. And then I discovered that the Mobile Web Megatrends conference is also suffering the same problem.

Why so few women speakers, panellists or moderators?

And don't tell me this is representative of the industry because I know it isn't - we have good female representation at Mobile Mondays, more women come to Swedish Beers now (and growing) and the women in the Women in Mobile Data Association are plentiful! I even hear along the grapevine that the MMA has a strong female contingent.

And yes, this is a particular bugbear of mine. But with good reason. So bear with me.

I'm fed up to the back teeth of conference organisers and their sponsors ignoring women in the mobile industry (Informa being a recent obvious culprit, but they are certainly not alone) and coming up with lame excuses as to why women aren't involved. And many of these events are actually organised by women which makes it even worse. Do women still defer to men? Do women need a license to speak up?

I'm not a bra-burning feminist by any stretch of the imagination. But come on, this is the 21st Century and we've had the vote a while now. Women make 80% of buying decisions, women are more prolific on the internet than men, women are driving social networking - why aren't they (we) visible at potentially game-changing events where real decisions are made about all our digital futures, when potentially, it will probably impact most on women's day to day lives than men's.

I don't expect to get to 50/50 but to get to 25% visibility would be a start and not unreasonable I'd have thought. Or am I deluded here?

And don't give me the comment 'well if it's a choice between a man and a woman speaker and the man's the better qualified speaker then we choose the man' because in *most* cases in my 8 year experience of attending mobile conferences and events, there are few 'brilliant' speakers on the circuit at all - male or female - so there isn't usually an issue of having to choose between them. And with different formats, different styles of speakers get a chance to shine and therefore it encourages diversity.

It still feels like women are pretty much invisible and that the mobile industry is still very much a boy's club. [And yes, I know it's not just the mobile industry - I can only tackle one sector at a time!]


1. Do we need to rethink event formats to make them more accessible to women? And if so, what are those formats?

2. How do we boost the confidence of female participants so that they say yes more times than they say no when asked to contribute as a speaker, panellist, moderator, whatever?

3. How do we encourage women to take networking and conferencing at this level seriously and make it a core part of their jobs rather than something they do once in a blue moon?

4. How do we encourage companies to put women forward as speakers as often as, or sometimes instead of the men in their companies?

5. How do women network differently (particularly married women) and how do we incorporate male and female styles of networking at events without resorting to separatism or golf days for the boys and spa days for the girls? (Much as I enjoy a spa, I don't really fancy networking with other women whilst in a dressing gown. Where would I put my business cards, phone and notebook anyway? And it does just confirm existing stereotypes and ridicules them. Why don't we just have a shoe-shopping expedition?!)

As a woman, you might think I qualify to answer these questions. Unfortunately, I don't suffer from a fear or reticence of speaking at events. I don't work for a big company so I don't have a glass ceiling to break through (I've experienced it in the past though), so I don't necessarily understand some of what's going on here and why these problems persist or what to do about them. In many cases, women themselves, are ensuring these problems persist so I'm not laying the blame solely on men here.  It's deeply culturally embedded so I know it's not a simple issue. Therefore, I'm particularly interested to hear others views and perceptions - and that's from men *and* women please!

I do believe this is a problem. And I do think we can change it for the better if we want to and hope that if I keep piping up about it, something positive will happen.

Some further links here too (and it's worth looking at the comments and links to other posts to get the full picture):

I also spotted this upcoming group 'Needs Women Speakers' who are naming and shaming conferences who need more female speakers, and there's an accompanying blog post.

And I've started the discussion on the Oxford Forum too in the hope we may make some progress and find a way forward from this.

And Jason Kottke has been talking about diversity at web industry conferences and some of them are suffering the same problem - although many have healthy female coverage, showing that it is possible.

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The usefulness of data collection

Every company seems to want your data these days - gender, date of birth, postcode, what you buy, what you like, who you hang with, how often you do all this. Yet what do they do with it?

Seemingly, very little.

Tell me, why did Sainsbury's think it was a good idea to send me a personalised email promoting nappies and baby goods?

sainsbury nappies

I've shopped at Sainsbury's, offline, for over 20 years. And online, I've shopped with them a handful of times in the last 2 or 3 years I reckon.

So tell me, why would I want to stock up on baby food, accessories, wipes or toiletries?

I have never bought nappies in my life - not even for my nieces when they were born.

I am single.

I have no children. [Well not if you don't count my involvement with my local brownie pack in Tooting Bec. And they're not babies anyway.]

My shopping habits haven't changed. I still don't buy meat or cigarettes. I still don't buy baked beans or marmite. And I still don't buy Johnson's baby lotion or Pamper's.

Have they made an assumption because I've bought baby wipes a few times that I have a baby - even though I've bought them for use at a festival and I've never bought any other baby products? It's a tenuous link at best and anyway, I usually buy my baby wipes at Superdrug or Somerfield.

Or are they being super-clever... and they've worked out that a couple of my facebook pals have had babies recently?? I somehow doubt they're following me to that degree, and they certainly shouldn't be if I haven't given them permission.

If it's not going to be useful or used, why bother collecting the data at all?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Disqus comments aren't working on new posts

It's a glitch with blogger it seems if you use Windows Live Writer to write your posts (which I'm doing right now, because it's way easier to use than anything solely web-based).

Comments are here though and will stay here, it's just they're using the old blogger system rather than (my preferred) Disqus system. I guess when they've found a work around, I'll be able to do something about it. It looks like I'm not the only with the problem having done a bit of a Google-around.

Rest assured, I *do* get round to reading all the comments (eventually), however they come in and I appreciate that you take the time to both read and comment on my blog. And I hope you continue to do so.

A useful guide to SMS launched today

After announcing my upcoming course on mobile marketing earlier today, Laura from ExactTarget's PR team over in the States wrote me a lovely email asking me for my opinion on her client's new guide to SMS. Admittedly, on reading that the company behind the publication was a tech services company I thought the guide might be a bit dry, as tech guides can often be, but I'm very pleased to say, I was totally wrong on that score. It's an fresh take on SMS marketing in an easy-to-read format.

Laura says: "ExactTarget’s Field Guide to SMS is an easy-to-read manual that conveniently breaks down the numerous uses of commercial SMS into three groups including: alerts, updates and marketing messages. Perfect for marketers who wonder what possibilities exist for using SMS within their own organizations, the Field Guide highlights 15 unique business scenarios ranging from account activity and fraud alerts to confirmations and appointment reminders."

I say: "The ExactTarget team have put a lot of thought into the different cases for using SMS in a business context ranging from account activity alerts to VIP access and everything in between. Keeping with the 'Field Guide' and Nature theme, they've defined characteristics of the different 'species' of SMS messages and broken them down in each case by describing the Wildlife Commentary (real life usage scenarios), Defining Characteristics (an explanation of how that particular type of SMS works, Species Contribution (the benefits of using it), Diet (what data you need to make it work) and Habitat (where you're likely to discover this type of SMS). It's intended as an idea-starter rather than a comprehensive guide, but if it's a starting point you want, then this is as good a start as any."

It's a free download (in return for some contact information) from the ExactTarget’s Field Guide to SMS .

One-day course in Mobile Marketing in London - 16 September 2008

For those of you who are interested, I'm running a one-day course on mobile marketing for the lovely folks at E-Consultancy on 16 September in London near Old Street. It'll be a small class and we'll cover all aspects of mobile marketing from SMS to mobile web with plenty of time for in-depth discussion, knowledge-sharing and case studies. And yes, we'll even talk about the iphone effect. At the time of writing, this is my last planned public course for 2008.

The course is suitable for marketers at all levels, all I ask you to bring with you is a smile, a good attitude and a willingness to take part. It is not a technology course so there'll be no programming although there might be a few gadgets to look at if I can borrow some in time for the day. Previous delegates have been more than pleasantly surprised at how much they enjoyed the day.

I'm currently updating the case study section of the course and I'm always interested to be updated with new, interesting, relevant case studies. So if you have something to share - with images and some indication of results (why it was a success or failure), then I'm very interested to hear about it. You can contact me via email. Also if you have relevant mobile gadgets or gizmos to lend me for the day, please do get in touch. I'm thinking specifically upcoming handsets, a Flip camera (to demonstrate UGC), NFC handset/demo or anything else you can think of.

Mobile Marketing - London Seminar | Training |

Monday, August 18, 2008

RL Magazine - Know the Code

I was just browsing the MyMart blog and spotted that Ralph Lauren has set up its own m-commerce site and is allowing customers to buy from it from a small selection of their ranges. You can reach the mobile site via QR code, texting in to a shortcode or going directly to the URL

There is a common misunderstanding by high end fashion companies that their customers somehow aren't digitally minded and wouldn't dream of using the internet. I've no idea where they get that from but it certainly isn't true - Net-A-Porter and Vertu are testament to that. So I'm very pleased to see that Ralph Lauren is getting in on the mobile act.

I think the QR code thing is a bit of a red herring at the moment. The readers aren't embedded on most phones and it's a bit of a hassle to get the reader, download it, remember where it is, open the reader application, open the shutter and then take the picture of the barcode when it would be easier to text in to a shortcode or go directly to the URL. [Of course, it's a different thing once we have the software pre-installed and deeply embedded so our phones *know* when it can see a QR code and automatically give us the option to use it or not.] I digress.

I'm not a Ralph Lauren shopper (well save for a lovely pair of RL shades I got at TK Maxx and a liking for the RL fragrance Romance) so am probably not the target audience. The thought of wearing crisp white pants and a blue, red and white polo shirt fills me with dread. But I know others feel differently about these things otherwise RL wouldn't be doing nearly so well.

Screenshot0011Anyway, I thought I'd take a closer look at the site to see what I liked (or not) about it.

First off we have the opening page. And it's just a list of banners rather than words or words and banners. And they're very difficult to read as the writing on them is tiny. If you're not familiar with RL, these may be a bit confusing anyway. There are written links further down but they don't relate to the banners and don't shed much more light.

Rather confusingly, the first Screenshot0012option is for the QR code information. Now it seems to me that if you have found your way to the RL mobile website already, the chances are you don't need to use a QR code to get to it. As you can see below, the introduction doesn't help much either as you have to do more clicking to get to the information.

Leaving that to one side, I have a glance around at some of the other pages.



 Screenshot0017 It's not particularly inspiring and I'm not convinced huge amounts of time was spent putting the offering together.

The Definitive Guide to Ralph Lauren Style is useful and is good 'snacking' information.

The sales info is not terribly exciting - they're assuming the customer knows all about the brand and collections already, and quite frankly, I have no idea about the different collections so it would be useful to have a few words (and I mean just a few) to explain the difference between RL_Classics and The Ralph Lauren Collection as an example.

Now maybe most of the customers who find the RL mobile site are existing RL customers and know what they're after and what they're looking for without having to browse around. In which case, the site needs a search facility. The scenario is that you're looking at Vogue, Tatler or some other fashion magazine and see the Ralph Lauren advertisement with the bag you absolutely must have *now* and you're short on time. A search facility to enable that sale would be invaluable. And when you consider the price for each item in stock, a handful of sales are very important (dresses at $2,000, sandals at $700 and an imported bag at almost $20,000 and the basic polos at $75 it soon mounts up).

On the actual shopping page for the polo shirts, you were given the option as to what colour you might want and asked you your size, but there was no link to a size guide. And for the really expensive items, wouldn't you want a bit of personal service and be connected by telephone to your local sales advisor?

So, 10/10 for bothering to do something on mobile but 5/10 for implementation. More thought needs to go into who the customer is, when they might use a service like this and what service that should actually be.

RL Magazine - Know the Code

UK shoppers in mobile bargain hunt | Mobile Content | News by Mobile Entertainment

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I've just been reading today on Mobile Entertainment Magazine that Forty five per cent of BT's Broadband Anywhere ToGo smartphone customers have browsed the mobile web for goods or services from their devices.  What's more, a third have checked a price, searched for a review or helped them make their buying decision. And one-fifth have actually made a purchase online (although it doesn't specify whether online via mobile or PC internet).

The results came out of an ICM poll among 1,000 BT Total Broadband Anywhere customers between June 17th-24th 2008. Unfortunately I can't find a link to the study as the thing I'm interested in is of the customers who responded, how many were men and what category of shopping are we talking about here? Grocery shopping is a very different animal to fashion shopping or gift buying.

As a woman myself, I know I have very different shopping habits to any of the men in my life. I do a lot of shopping online, but that's for stuff that's easier to get online and is not particularly enjoyable to shop for - typically business books, stationery, PC consumables, vitamins and food supplements and the like. There isn't a creative process involved in the purchase of (m)any of these things except making sure you get the best price and reliable delivery. Fashion shopping online is more than a bit hit or miss with me except for the basics and actually, it's just easier for me to get that kind of stuff from my local High Street.

The-Five-SensesI still enjoy shopping though - as in going out for a few hours and hanging round the shops to see what I can find. This is not goal driven shopping, this is about shopping as a creative process, finding some inspiration, seeing what's out there - a mix of finding the right top, shoes, bag or whatever, that just matches perfectly with something you already have and oh, you just managed to get it for a bargain price too. It's about feeding all the senses during the shopping experience - sight, sound, smell, touch and probably to a lesser degree the taste, although a good cup of tea and a scone and jam does help fuel the shopping session.

There are not many e-commerce sites, let alone m-commerce sites that appeal to the creative nature of a shopping expedition. EBay does it to some degree as it takes a bit of practice to work out what things to look for and also what to buy without making huge mistakes on your purchase. An in-depth knowledge of brands, fabric quality and the psychology of ad-listing will help you in this respect. Another example is my weekly organic grocery delivery from Farmaround. I order fruit and vegetables weekly and I'm never quite sure exactly what's going to be in them as it's dependent on season and what's on offer. The creative process kicks in as there's an element of surprise on arrival and then I can start planning what I'm going to cook that week.

So my question is, if men and women shop in different ways (transactional vs discovery), how is that accounted for with the online shopping experience be that via mobile or PC?

Monday morning news

I have a fair few tabs open on my browser, so in an attempt to reduce that number, here are a few Monday morning links for you. Some of the links are mobile, some are not so pick and choose what you see fit!

MIG is innovating with its new PSMS Refund Manager built specifically for the broadcast industry:

"Refund Manager will enable consumers who interact with mobile competitions or votes, outside the campaign timeframe, to self-serve refunds. The product has been designed specifically in-line with PhonepayPlus regulations to give broadcasters the confidence, and the toolset, to run fully compliant premium rate mobile interactive services."

VentureBeat reported yesterday that venture firm EDF is attempting to take legal action against an entrepreneur who left a negative comment about them on VC review site The Funded. The entrepreneur advised against dealing with EDF ‘unless you are desperate’. What a dumb move. [via The Equity Kicker]

 Jemima Gibbons' take on my Friday favourite, The Tuttle Club. We hang out at The Coach and Horses on Friday mornings in London's Greek Street and I'm proud to tell you that I was at the very first Tuttle and am thrilled to see how it's growing. Brighton Tuttle had its first event on Saturday and it looks like Birmingham will be following suit soon too. More on the Tuttle Blog if you're interested.

Vision Mobile has come up with a 'who's who in mobile' chart. If you're interested in understanding how the mobile industry works, then this chart is probably worth a look.

Technokitten pal, Lisa Devaney, kindly includes me in her list of 'other media people' as a response to The Guardian's Top 100 list. She compiles an interesting list.

Microsoft spoofs the ad business - and does it rather well!

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